Biomedical Engineering: Advancing UK Healthcare

In this report we detail 14 case studies from British universities and industry which exemplify the role of biomedical engineering.

Healthcare is now becoming increasingly dependent on technology, and further safe, effective advances of this technology depend on the work of biomedical engineers. To prevent this work being held back by structural inefficiencies, the profession needs to be recognised as a distinct discipline that offers significant value to patients, hospitals and the national economy. There is a need for a consolidation of biomedical engineering within academia, health service and industry, and practical steps to encourage this should be pursued.

Currently biomedical engineering is a fragmented discipline: often it is divided and absorbed into other departments, but even this is inconsistent. To obtain the full benefits of cross-disciplinary working, the skills of biomedical engineers need to be understood as a distinct discipline, and integrated into the healthcare interests of academia, industry, NHS and Government.

Nationally and internationally, the delivery of healthcare and wellness is increasingly dependent on technology, and the role of the biomedical engineer will become increasingly important in university research, commercial development, manufacturing and hospital practice.

Key recommendations

1. Every NHS acute trust should have a designated Chief Biomedical Engineer
2. A single, dedicated funding programme for biomedical engineering research should be established in UK Research Councils
3. Industrial and taxation policy should promote long-term investment in biomedical engineering to encourage domestic development and manufacturing
4. International consensus should be pursued for global standards, a common device regulatory and approvals regime, and harmonisation of patent legislation in medical devices. Named UK leads should be agreed for these policy roles

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